Work has started on the first phase of Chester’s £100m Central Business Quarter – a huge-scale project which aims to create 3,500 jobs by 2028.
Contractors Eric Wright Civil Engineering – a firm experienced in industry in the North West – will deliver a 192-space car park for Network Rail on land bounded by the rear of Queen Hotel and Queen’s Road, over the next two months.
Delivered in partnership with Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales, it will release existing car parking to the east of the station to provide part of the landscaped entrance to the business quarter.
Cheshire West and Chester councillor Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “This is one of the most significant developments in Chester’s recent history. The business quarter will drive Chester’s commercial offer and economic growth.”
Completion of the car park – for rail users and staff – will enable Muse Developments to begin construction work on a six-storey, eco-friendly office block, providing 70,000 sq ft of space by late 2015.
Muse Developments director Phil Mayall said: “City Place is of huge strategic importance to Chester and the region and we are very pleased to see the council commence work on the public realm, which takes us a significant step closer to delivering our exciting plans.”
Stage two of the scheme begins in late June, with construction of an arched pedestrian gateway to the business quarter.
This will involve alteration and partial demolition of part of the Grade II*-listed frontage of Chester Station – under listed building consent.
This stage – scheduled to begin in late June – also involves relocation of British Transport Police into another part of the station building and a new store facility for Arriva Trains Wales.
And stage three, due for completion in autumn next year, will include hard landscaping, tree and flower bed planting, lighting and street furniture running from the quarter gateway to the first office building 1 City Place.
Chester Renaissance chairman, Eric Langton, said: “The Central Business Quarter is a major statement to the business world to come and be part of the exciting One City journey that celebrates Chester’s past while changing our future.
“This is the first visible sign of the project which will attract quality employers with the potential to create thousands of jobs.
“There is already a lot of interest from companies excited by the Central Business Quarter, who recognise the merit of the project and the city’s ambitions to make Chester an even better place to live, work and play.
“Construction workers are, of course, already on the site of Cheshire’s largest Waitrose store, linked to the business quarter via a new foot and cycle bridge, significantly enhancing one of the city’s main approach roads when it opens before the end of this year.”
The project is supported with a grant of £617,550 from the European Regional Development Fund.
On Tuesday, local residents and businesses attended the first of a series of information meetings at the Queen Hotel, designed to keep the local community up to date with the latest project information.
Chester’s Central Business Quarter, which will eventually create 500,000 sq ft of new office space and public realm, is a vital part of the One City Plan – a blueprint designed with the hope of creating a world class city by 2027.
More than 1,200 residents, businesses and other stakeholders contributed to its recommendations .